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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Account Management Policy

Account Management Policy Overview

PURPOSE

The City of Portland is accountable to its citizens for the use of its publicly owned resources and public dollars.  Likewise, the citizens of Portland must also be accountable to the City for the payment of services received from those publicly owned resources.   This Account Management Policy is intended to:

  1. Inform customers that bills for water, sewer and storm water charges are payable on or before the due date.
  2. Provide guidelines that assist customers in keeping their accounts current in order to avoid late charges or actions that may result in service being shut off.
  3. Promote the collection of past due amounts in a manner that protects both the rights of the customer and the public resource. 
  4. Provide information about various financial assistance options that may be available, including but not limited to payment plans, discounts or one-time vouchers for qualified low-income households.
  5. Provide an appeal process for customers who have been unable to resolve billing issues or who believe they are not responsible for an outstanding account balance.

                       View the Official City of Portland Policy

REQUIREMENTS 

  1. To avoid late charges, delinquency penalties and/or service interruptions, an account must be paid in full by the due date or an approved payment arrangement must be established.
  2. If a customer’s account has reached shut off status only one time during the previous 12 months, the service may be restored with a promise to pay 50% of the balance owing within three (3) business days and a payment arrangement made for the remaining balance.
  3. If a customer’s account has reached shut off status more than once during the previous 12 months, 50% of the balance owing must be posted to the customers account and a payment arrangement made for the remaining balance prior to the restoration of service.
  4. If collection efforts extend beyond shut off status (i.e., meter tampering or meter removal), a payment equaling 100% of the outstanding balance on the account must be posted to the customer’s account prior to the restoration of service.

BILLING SCHEDULE AND FEES

The billing schedule, carrying charges and fees on past due accounts and the fees for restoring water service after normal business are subject to change each year on July 1.  They are published in the annual rate ordinance.  The fees for Fiscal Year 2013-14 (July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014) are:

A.     Schedule of actions taken and associated fees           -  Subject to Change -

 

Day in Cycle

Action on Account

Fee Assessed

0

Bill is printed and dated.

  $0

21

Account is due and noted as delinquent when applicable.Collection actions within the billing system begin.

  $0

28

Late fee/carrying charge added to bill

  1%

35

A Reminder Notice is generated

  $5.00

42

A Pre-Shut Off Notice or Urgent Notice

is generated 

  $10.25

49

Courtesy Pre-Shut Off Phone Call 

----------------------------------------

Delivery of Last Chance Notice is authorized

  $0

 -----------------------------

$15.00 when delivered

56

Shut Off Authorization for

all accounts 

  $71.25

After next read

Illegal usage and lock meter (in addition to the commodity reate charged for usage.)

  $50.50 

14 days later

Removal of meter, spacer or standpipe if unauthorized usage continues and payment arrangements are not made.

  $160.00

After meter removal

If water consumption continues and payment is not made, the water service will be restricted by a Crimp/Freeze action.

  $750.00 minimum per action

----------------------------- 

Note:  Fee subject to increase if additional work is required.

Any occurence

Returned Payment

  $35.00

 B.     Cost of turning water on after business hours             - Subject to Change -

 

Time the Request is Made

Fee Assessed 

 Monday - Friday 8 am to 5 pm

 No Charge

 Monday - Friday 5 pm to 9 pm

 $150.00

 Monday - Thursday 9 pm to 8 am

 $200.00

 Friday after 9 pm/Weekends & holidays

 $200.00

FEE WAIVERS

Waivers for fees may be allowed on the following basis:

  • Fees for carrying charges, reminder, urgent and pre-shut off notices and for shut off actions may be waived once every twelve months.
  • Fees that accrue for actions after an account has reached shut off status (such as for meter tampering or for meter removal) will not be waived.  
  • Fees for returned payment items, such as checks returned for insufficient funds, will not be waived.
  • No other fee waivers will be granted unless an error has been made.  Fees applied in error will be corrected and a note of such action noted in the customer’s account record.

PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS

Account holders, or parties authorized to act on a customer’s behalf, are entitled to make payment arrangements for water, sewer and stormwater services under the following guidelines: 

  •        Active Accounts 

For active accounts, payment is due 21 days after the date of billing. 

Residential customers receive a bill once every 3 months.

Any account holder who is unable to pay an outstanding balance when due may contact Customer Service during normal business hours to make payment arrangements or to request a payment plan.  Customers will be encouraged to arrange for the shortest payment time possible.

Customers billed monthly may request payment arrangements that extend the due date up to an additional 30 days. 

Customers billed bimonthly or quarterly may request payment arrangements that extend over the current billing period when necessary. Payment arrangements will require that the outstanding balance be paid in full 14 days prior to the extract bill date.

If a customer defaults on a payment arrangement, additional payment arrangements will not be offered to the customer for the current balance until all missed payments are made. 

  •        Back Billed Accounts 

Customers who receive a bill that was delayed or adjusted for a period greater than six months due to an error on the part of the City may establish a payment plan that will pay off the balance over a period not to exceed six months.  The plan will be calculated to remove the arrears amount within the agreed time period.  Customers must continue to pay their regularly scheduled bills by the established due date.  Bills delayed or adjusted for a period of six months or less must be paid before the next billing cycle.

Bills delayed or adjusted due to an error on the part of the customer must be paid before the next billing cycle.

If a customer defaults on a payment arrangement, additional payment arrangements will not be offered to the customer for the current balance until all missed payments are made. 

  •        Final Billed Accounts 

Portland Water Bureau Customer Service is not authorized to make payment arrangements for customers who have received a final bill.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE  

The City Council has approved the following financial assistance programs to assist qualified customers:  

Bill Discount Program 

Account holders having financial difficulty making payments and who are income-eligible will be offered an opportunity to enroll in the Water/Sewer Bill Discount Program. The City sets eligibility standards but does not determine who is eligible for financial assistance.  Interested parties will be referred to the appropriate agency for evaluation. The agency will review the application, make the eligibility determination and notify the City or provide the applicant with the approved paperwork to return to the City.

When financial assistance eligibility is confirmed, recurring discounts on water and sewer bill charges will be provided for a 2-year period.  This 24-month period begins with the first bill date after the enrollment has been noted in the customer’s account.  Prior to the end of the eligibility period, Customer Service will send a reminder letter with a renewal application notifying the program participant of the approaching termination date.  An individual wishing to continue in the program may reapply through one of the approved agencies or return the renewal application with the appropriate income documentation to the City.  The discount amount may be adjusted annually and will be published in the water and sewer Rate Ordinances.  Information related to the discounts will be made available to the public via printed material and on the Portland Water Bureau’s web site. 

Crisis Vouchers 

Annual Crisis Vouchers are also available to income-eligible customers who are enrolled in the discount program and either scheduled for meter shut off or who are already shut off.  The maximum amount allowable for a Crisis Voucher per 12-month period is established by the City Council and is currently $150.00.  A minimum co-payment (currently $20.00) is required before the value of the Crisis Voucher will be applied to an account. To remain consistent with other policies, additional payments may be required, depending upon the customer’s account status.  If the account has an outstanding balance after the voucher is applied, the account holder will be expected to make appropriate payment arrangements for the remaining balance. 

Utility Safety Net Assistance Program 

 The Utility Safety Net Assistance Program is a financial solution program providing short term assistance during a temporary crisis.  The program offers a one time initial credit of $50.00.  The outstanding balance on the account after the successful completion of an established payment plan will be reduced by 50% or $300, whichever is less. The program was approved by the City Council in June 2007 and is designed for eligible account holders who do not have any other financial assistance options available to them.  Applicants accepted into the program must provide documentation to show they meet qualifying criteria but do not have to be enrolled in the Water/Sewer Bill Discount Program.


Tampering with a meter or illegally using water or sewer services will disqualify a program participant from receiving financial assistance for a period of one year from the date of discovery. 


ADJUSTMENTS 

Billing adjustments will be in the form of credits or additional charges to an active account.

When it has been determined that a billing error for water and/or sewer services has occurred, the account may be adjusted for the period of the billing error not to exceed three years from the date the Bureau received notice of the error.  The period of a billing adjustment will be based on the date the error occurred as verified by City billing records. 

Eligibility for an adjustment on an account will end six months after the date a final bill was issued for that account.

If an account was not billed because the Bureau was not notified of the water user’s responsibility for payment, the Bureau will issue the bill from the date the party became legally responsible for the bill. 

Refunds are issued on a case-by-case basis by authorized Customer Service staff.  They may be initiated by account holder request or by staff reviews of accounts with credit balances.  If an account holder has another account, the credit balance will be transferred to that account.

APPEALS  

Portland Water Bureau Customer Service is dedicated to resolving customer issues and inquiries as quickly as possible.  In order to do this, staff will routinely consider bureau policies, account/customer history and special circumstances when a customer disputes a bill or cites an inability to make timely payments.  Customers requesting exceptions to normal policies will be referred through an escalating management review.  Those customers wishing to request a formal review of an account balance or billing issue or to challenge a shutoff action may file an appeal in accordance with the Water, Sewer and/or Storm Water Billing Appeal Policy.

ACCEPTABLE FORMS OF PAYMENT 

The City of Portland accepts US Currency for payment in the form of cash, checks, money orders, and Visa & MasterCard credit and debit cards.  When paying in cash, no more than $5.00 in coin will be accepted for payment.  When paying by check through the mail, in our office or drop box you must provide a payment and stub that is free of any tape, staples, or any other item that delays or prevents processing.  Unacceptable forms of payment will be returned and late fees will occur until an appropriate payment is received.    

Please note your 10 digit account number on your check for efficient and accurate processing.  Using the wrong account number may also cause a delay in processing where late fees may occur.